News / Africa

Niger Uneasy About French Troops Tracking Abductions

Image taken from video and provided by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group shows the first images of a group of foreign hostages working for a French energy company who were seized in Niger by an al-Qaida offshoot, 30 Sept. 2010
Image taken from video and provided by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group shows the first images of a group of foreign hostages working for a French energy company who were seized in Niger by an al-Qaida offshoot, 30 Sept. 2010

French troops are in Niger to help search for hostages abducted by terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida.

The hostages abducted last month from Niger's huge French uranium mine are now thought to be in neighboring Mali. So there is no on-the-ground hunt for the hostages here. Instead, the 80 French troops in Niger's capital are conducting aerial surveillance of the group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb along Mali's border with Algeria.

The head of the French military, Edouard Guillaud, says there are no immediate plans to use those troops to help free the hostages.

For the moment, he says, French forces in the Sahel are here to support diplomacy.

The strain of the kidnapping and the deployment of French troops has caused some tension between Niger's military government, France, and the French energy firm Areva.

Regional diplomats here say there is an unhappy cooperation with the French deployment. Niger's government knows it can not refuse the troops because this is not Niger's fight. There is an acknowledgement that terrorism has hurt tourism and could threaten future investment. The hope, diplomats say, is that al-Qaida and the French will both leave Niger in peace.

Political science professor Mahaman Tidjani Alou says the arrival of both al-Qaida and French troops means Niger no longer has any privacy. It is as if the country is now simply part of a larger territory.

Alou says these are problems effecting Niger in such a way that its leaders appear helpless.   What will happen in the future, he asks. Either Sahelian countries will be strengthened to better control their territories and protect their sovereignty or they are going to occupied by foreign armies or other groups like al-Qaida.

With the resources Niger has today, Alou says the country is becoming more and more attractive to groups like Areva. Areva is already here, he says, but no one knows where it will stop. Alou says the problems of security are in Niger and Mali but the negotiations to find solutions are taking place in Paris and Washington. That, he says, is the paradox.

Algerian security analyst Hamad Yassine says French troops in the Sahel threaten Algeria's self-appointed role as the regional leader in the fight against al-Qaida.

Yassine says Algeria is organizing Sahelian military and intelligence chiefs to make clear that it is in charge of this fight. Yassine says it is a message to the Sarkozy government that French troops must leave regional security cooperation to Algeria, since Algeria believes it knows best this al-Qaida group because it began in Algeria.

Mauritanian political analyst Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Abu al-Maaly says French intervention in the hostage crisis would give al-Qaida a huge propaganda win.

He says French troops are like adding oil to a fire because it justifies al-Qaida's presence in the region as a popular force defending the sovereignty of Sahelian people against foreign intervention. He doubts Algeria's ability to better coordinate anti-terrorism efforts because of mistrust among Sahelian governments, which makes it easier for al-Qaida to operate.

Al-Qaida's attack on the uranium mine here was an unusually bold move for a group that previously focused on kidnapping tourists and aid workers. The vulnerability of such an important investment for Niger has lead to finger pointing over security and sovereignty.

Government spokesman Laouali Dan Dah says Niger's military offered to take over security at the Areva mine in July. But Areva chose instead to use its own unarmed guards unlike, Dan Dah says, any of the other mining firms in Niger. Areva says 350 troops stationed at the local airport were meant to regularly patrol living areas from where the hostages were abducted.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid